Starting a new sport at any age can be a daunting experience, but even more so as an adult. The doubt sometimes creeps in before you step foot on the dojo or the pitch; Will I be made to feel welcome? Will I be any good? Am I fit enough? Will I enjoy it?

Whilst taking my daughter along to a weekly gymnastics class at Drumbrae Leisure Centre, I spotted a poster on the centre’s notice board advertising Drumbrae Judo Club, stating ‘all adults welcome’. That night I sent an email that would start me on my own judo journey.

The email conversation went a bit like this; “I am 40 with no martial arts experience, can I come along to the club?” The answer from the club “Yes”.

I would describe my first experience at the club as welcoming.  They accepted me straight away and guided me, making me feel really involved from the first day. I came away exhilarated and really part of something.

Although at times I have visited my local gym, I was not someone who had ever consistently taken part in sport before finding judo. Judo is something personal for me, with two children and a busy job in the NHS it can be hard to find the time to do something just for me. I have also noticed the improvement in my fitness and strength since I started.

My kids are proud of me and think it is great that I am part of a judo club, at my age!  Although they were surprised at the beginning, as they were nervous that I was taking part in something so physical, but I explained that you get taught how to practice judo safely.

Having recently achieved my 1st Kyu, I credit my club and coaches for the support and camaraderie.  Rosemary Blaikie my coach, motivates me to believe in myself and my abilities. Working through the syllabus with patience and guidance. We then support each other to keep up the motivation.

I have recently started coming along to Monday night randori at the JudoScotland National Training Centre, where I have the opportunity to train with a mix of abilities.  There is no pressure, no criticism it is just a great opportunity to practise judo.

As someone who joined Judo at a later stage in life, my advice for an adult looking to start judo for the first time, is simple, let’s talk about it, take the opportunity to talk to your local club to find out about what judo can do for you as it may not be what you think. I learned to love everything before I learnt to do it, it is not as scary as it may look and being part of the judo family is a real pleasure.

If you have been inspired by Denise’s story, find a Judo club near you here.